Scotch whisky is celebrated worldwide but many don’t know that this ‘water of life’ originates from ancient Scottish distilleries that have their names rooted in Gaelic.
However, for uisge beatha (Scottish Gaelic for whisky or “water of life”) it may come as a surprise to some how unfamiliar many are with their pronunciations as it is one of Scotland’s biggest exports.
From the Scottish Highlands to the Lowlands, here are 17 of Scotland’s most famous distilleries, their meaning in Gaelic and how to pronounce their names today.
1. Lagavulin (Islay)
Lagavulin Distillery is located at Laguvulin Bay on the island of Islay and was founded in 1816. Its name is an anglicisation of the Gaelic lag a’mhuilin which means ‘hollow by the mill’. To pronounce its name say “lagga-voolin”. Photo: larsomat via Flickr
2. AnCnoc/Knockdu (Knock)
AnCnoc Distillery is situated in Knock, Banffshire, and was founded in 1894. Originally known as Knocdu (“knock-doo”) this is translated from the Gaelic ‘Cnoc Dubh’ which means ‘black hill’. It later became AnCnoc which simply means ‘the hill’. Photo: Submitted
3. Laphroaig (Islay)
Laphroaig distillery (founded in 1815) is located on the south coast of the Isle of Islay. The Gaelic behind its name means ‘the beautiful hollow by the broad bay’ although it has also been associated with the Norse “breid-vik” which means broad bay. You pronounce its name like “la-froyg”. Photo: sashafatcat on Flickr
4. Tomintoul (Speyside)
Tomintoul Distillery can be found at the Glenlivet estate, it is named after the highest village in the Highlands (Tomintoul) and was founded in 1964. The Gaelic translation of its name means ‘The Hill of the Barn' (Tom an t-Sabhail) and you pronounce it like “tom-in-towel”. Photo: Submitted